As a rule, spruces are large trees with growth heights between 20 and 70 meters, which can also be up to 600 years old. The tall species are not suitable for home gardens because they grow quickly and cast enormous shadows, are vulnerable to wind damage, have very shallow roots that spread far and deprive other plants of water. In addition, they make the soil acidic and can hardly be planted under, can damage buildings and make quite a mess. For this reason, there are special breeds, small trees that are also suitable for planters and do not require much or even little space in the garden. A few decades ago, spruce hedges were very popular as a barrier to neighbors or the street. Today one has deviated somewhat from it,


  • Pine family
  • order of conifers
  • Most between 20 and 70 m high
  • Almost all hardy – ideal tree species for cold climates
  • monobloc
  • Tree crown conical to cylindric
  • Layered crown structure
  • Spitzwipfelige Krone
  • First bloom after 20 to 40 years – between April and June
  • monoecious
  • Typical spruce for the Central European garden
  • shallow roots
  • Makes the soil acidic

Good varieties for the home garden

  • Blue Wonder cone spruce (Picea glauca ‘Blue Wonder’) – interesting colored alternative to the normal Cone spruce, blue-green, later steel-blue needles, grows to a height of 2 to 4 m, annual growth of 5 to 15 cm
  • Yellow sugar loaf spruce (Picea glauca ‘Maigold’) – when they shoot, bright light yellow, later dark green needles, compact shape, strictly conical habit. 0.60 to 1.6 cm high
  • Small Serbian spruce (Picea omorika Nana) – dwarf spruce, rather spherical habit, short, dark green to silvery-green needles, becomes 1 to 1.5 m high, annual growth 4 to 8 cm
  • Dwarf spruce (Picea glauche var. Albertiana ‘Conica’) – dwarf form, grows narrow, dense and regular, pyramid-shaped, 1 to 1.5 m high, annual growth 10 to 15 cm
  • Spruce ‘Wills Zwerg’ (Picea arabies ‘Wills Zwerg’) – only 2 m high, low spruce with a dense, regular cone shape, in appearance a miniature version of the Norway spruce, annual growth 5 to 15 cm
  • Spruce ‘Rainbows End’ (Picea glauca ‘Rainbows End’) – small tree with soft needles, creamy-white new shoots, broadly conical habit, good for a sunny location, good in containers, up to 2 m tall
  • Spruces that remain small such as Picea arabies ‘Little Gem*’, porcupine spruce (Picea glauca Echiniformis), ‘Alberta Globe’ spruce (Picea glauca ‘Alberta Globe’), dwarf spruce ‘Sanders Blue* (Picea glauca ‘Sanders blue’), Dwarf spruce (Picea arabies Nana Compacta) and others are only 0.20 to 100 cm high

The care of spruces

Spruce care is not complicated provided the trees are in a good location and soil. It is also important that you have chosen the right type and variety. If the trees get too big and have to be felled, it is a lot of work and if you cannot do it yourself, you will face expensive expenses. Rootstock removal is also quite an act and can usually only be accomplished with heavy equipment. To do this, however, they first have to get to where they are needed, which is very often not the case. So you should think carefully about what you plant there!!!


Spruces are generally undemanding and make few demands on the location. It shouldn’t be too hot, so a cooler north exposure with partial shade is a better choice. Shadeless southern exposure means stress for the trees and if there is still a lack of water, that is absolutely unfavorable. Spruces do well with shade. They do best in the shade of larger trees. In addition, the trees love humid locations , which is why the shade is ideal. Since spruces are flat -rooted , they tend to topple over in strong winds or storms. A wind-protected location is therefore recommended.
Smaller spruces like the sugar loaf spruce do well in sunny locations as long as they are well supplied with water.

  • Not too hot
  • Growing spruces best cool northern exposure
  • Ideal in the shade of larger trees
  • Preferably humid
  • Protected from the wind – like to tip over
  • The spruce does not like a dry, smog-rich urban climate
Tip: Small spruce species and varieties often have different requirements for their location. Many cope very well with the sun, at least if water is provided regularly. When buying, it is therefore advisable to ask about the conditions. However, it is even better to buy specifically, i.e. to think about possible plants and shrubs beforehand. You decide on a location and then look for the appropriate specimen. There is a suitable spruce for almost every location. They are available in many heights and shapes.

plant substrate

When it comes to plant substrate, it always depends on the type of spruce. They like well-aerated and not permanently moist substrates, but usually get by with slightly moist as well as nutrient-poor soils.

  • Fresh, nutritious and slightly acidic soil
  • Rhododendron soil is ideal for planting
  • In no way too dry
  • Neutral to acidic
  • Mostly low in lime
  • It is best to mulch all year round with compost, leaves or bark mulch

plant spruces

The best planting time is between the beginning of autumn and the beginning of spring. It is important that the day is frost-free. Spruces need space. They should never be planted too close to a house wall or something similar. The roots spread a lot and can cause damage and also lift up paving slabs or the like. Sugarloaf spruces should always stand free. If their needles are touched constantly or frequently, they will turn brown quickly. The damage is inoperable.

  • Planting distance to buildings and neighbors
  • Also keep your distance from each other, always think about the size
  • Dig deep before planting!
  • Spruces acidify the soil. Because of this and the dense root system, underplanting is difficult.
  • Install a drainage layer when planting in a bucket
  • Transplant in autumn or spring. Dig up as much root as possible.
  • Do not plant trees

watering and fertilizing

Spruces do not need excessive water, but the soil should never dry out if possible. Moderate but regular watering is important. Water is particularly important until growth. Since spruces are shallow-rooted, the trees cannot take care of themselves from deeper soil layers, they depend on a regular supply of water.

  • When keeping in pots, make sure that the soil does not dry out completely.
  • Water regularly but moderately
  • Especially important in the period after planting, until the growth
  • Water plentifully in hot dry summers
  • No permanent wetness

With nutrient-rich soil, especially mineral soil, fertilizer is not necessary. If kept in tubs, a good fir fertilizer should be used after the frost. As a rule, one gift is enough for the whole year. Fertilization helps with deficiency symptoms such as magnesium or potassium deficiency.

  • Fertilizing is not necessary if the soil is rich in nutrients
  • Otherwise – fertilize potted plants immediately after the last severe frost
  • Fertilize in a targeted manner in the event of deficiency symptoms
  • Magnesium Deficiency – Discolouration starting from the needle tip, fading first on older needles in the central crown area exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Potassium deficiency – also first seen on the tips of the older needles, these first turn green-yellow to grey-green, later pale yellow, also first appearing in sunny areas, needles fall off quite quickly

To cut

Spruces do not need to be pruned. A cut stimulates branching, but the trees only sprout at the ends of the branches. If you cut too deep, i.e. into the old wood, they no longer sprout. Holes that have been cut do not grow over again . When spruces become brown or bare in the lower third, it is best to cut off the branches directly at the trunk. This is how a high trunk is formed. This looks better than if there are bare spots or holes at the bottom.

Spruce hedges should be cut more often so that they branch well. This is the only way to achieve a dense, beautiful growth habit.

  • Trim hedges if possible
  • Do not cut too deeply, no longer sprout from woody shoots


Spruces are extremely hardy. They also thrive in areas where it gets significantly colder than here in Central Europe. Maintenance in winter is usually not required. Only small spruces cultivated in tubs are somewhat endangered, not only by the cold, but also by the so-called frost drought. All evergreen plants are affected. In winter, when the sun shines and temperatures rise, the needles begin to evaporate water. Since the ground freezes or is already frozen when the weather is clear at night, the roots cannot absorb and transfer water. The plants dry up. That’s why it’s important to stick your finger in the potting soil every now and then on frost-free days to check whether the plant needs water. Did you miss this?

  • Spruces are completely hardy
  • In case of prolonged drought, water in frost-free periods
  • Make sure to regularly replenish water, especially when keeping buckets!
  • In addition, the bucket should be protected from severe and prolonged frost. It is best to wrap it in insulating foil, several times. Also stand on two or three styrofoam plates. So that everything looks chic again, cover everything with jute.


Spruce can be propagated in two ways, by seed and by cuttings. The more common way is propagation by cuttings, because the propagation from seeds takes an incredibly long time, it takes years.


Shoot cuttings should not be cut from trees that are too old (up to 25 years of age). The shoot tips of the third and fourth branch whorl from a sunny location root most reliably. The best time for pruning is about 4 to 6 weeks before budding, i.e. from the end of February to March. Put the end of the cutting in rooting powder and then in a pot with appropriate substrate, about 2 to 3 cm deep. A peat-sand mixture is ideal. High humidity is necessary for rooting. Keep the soil slightly moist, do not let it dry out. Sufficient roots should have formed by July or August.

  • Do not take cuttings from trees that are too old
  • Cut 4 to 6 weeks before sprouting begins
  • The shoot tips of the 3rd and 4th branch whorl root best
  • rooting powder
  • Put in a peat-sand mixture
  • High humidity
  • Even, light soil moisture


It is sown in spring, as early as possible, preferably directly outdoors. The soil must be weed-free and loose. The best is humus-rich mineral soil. Put the seeds in the ground and only lightly cover them with soil. To be on the safe side, put a protection over the seed, for example a transparent and perforated plastic bell. Experts use germination aids in the form of cones. Seeds from female spruce cones are used. These cones are longer than the males. The seeds are placed in a water-filled container. The seeds that float on top are not germinable. Only use seeds that have sunk to the ground. The spruces need about 10 years until a tree about 1 m high has grown from a seed.

  • Sow in spring
  • sow directly outdoors
  • In humushaltiger Mineralerde
  • Cover only a little with soil

diseases and pests

Diseases and pests are rare if the site and soil conditions are right. Waterlogged and dry soils weaken the trees. Voles and field mice can cause some damage.

  • Places that are too warm and air-dry – red spider – ensure more humidity
  • Fungal infestation – recognizable by dark spores on the underside of the needles, spray algae spray, pour nettle liquid manure, sweep up needles and dispose of them (not on compost)
  • Spruce gall aphid – pineapple-like galls on the shoot ends or at the base of the May shoots, affected shoots die off, especially on Norway spruce, infested shoots cut off early, spray preparations containing paraffin

If the spruce needles turn yellow, it may be due to the Sitka spruce aphid. The tree should be checked regularly for aphid infestation, even a healthy one.

Tip: All you have to do is take a sheet of paper and a stick. The leaf is held under the branches. The stick is tapped against the branches above. The lice fall on the paper and are easy to see there, unlike on the tree itself. If more than 5 lice land on the paper, you should do something against the pests (preparations based on rapeseed oil or potassium soap). The lice usually attack weakened spruces that are either too wet or too dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you “head” spruces?
You can, but it really doesn’t look anything but pretty. If the trees get too big, they can be cut down at any height. But they look absolutely mangled. Even if the flat roots threaten to fall over, you can shorten them. However, the beauty is irretrievably gone.

How many spruces are needed for a hedge?
One calculates with 3 to 4 spruces per running meter. 4 is used when the hedge needs to be sealed quickly. Usually 3 are enough.

Which fertilizer is suitable for spruce trees?
Normal NPK fertilizer is not made for conifers. Symptoms of deficiency develop quickly. Special fertilizer for conifers is better. This contains more sodium, phosphate and potassium. What is still important is magnesium fertilizer. Epsom salt is therefore good for conifers, but beware of over-fertilization.

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